Ludford: Lib Dems push for safeguards in new EU privacy rules

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPThe European Parliament has today agreed its position on proposals for updated data protection rules for businesses, public authorities and police throughout the EU. Once the 28 EU governments reach their common position – hopefully by June – negotiations can take place to enshrine these in EU law.

MEPs are insisting that citizens should be given greater control over how their data is used, by strengthening consent requirements, regulating profiling and direct marketing, and ensuring the right to object and get data erased. They want fines of up to 5% of yearly turnover to sanction companies that break the rules. Liberal Democrats secured a shift from too much red tape to an approach focussed on rights and safeguards for real risks, and avoiding unnecessary restrictions on legitimate use of data for innovation and research.

Co-negotiator for the Liberal (ALDE) group in the European Parliament, LibDem MEP Sarah Ludford said:

“Data protection is a fundamental right, and citizens must be able to determine how and when their personal data is processed. The new EU rules, updated from a law 20 years old, are needed both to strengthen safeguards in a digital age and ensure consistent EU-wide ‘single market’ rules for the benefit of consumers as well as businesses.”

“Liberal Democrats have played a key role in securing a balanced text which will guarantee substantive privacy rights across Europe and tough sanctions for rule-breakers, but allow the legitimate and secure processing of data which is crucial for technical innovation and medical research.”

“Against the background of the Snowden revelations, I successfully pushed for the inclusion of a provision to protect European citizens data from being accessed by the NSA and other foreign intelligence services. I am delighted that Liberal Democrats at home are also acting to stop GCHQ conduct unwarranted mass surveillance.”

Ludford: MEPs back reform of European Arrest Warrant to prevent miscarriages of justice

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

The European Parliament today overwhelmingly backed a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford calling for major reforms to the European Arrest Warrant, including a human rights safeguard clause to help avoid miscarriages of justice and a proportionality check to prevent it being used for minor offences.

The report calls on the European Commission to table proposals for reform within the next year. One key demand is for the introduction of an explicit clause that would empower EU member states to refuse extradition requests if there are substantial grounds to believe that the human rights of the accused person would be breached. This would help to avoid the repeat of notorious cases such as that of Andrew Symeou, who was detained in poor conditions in a Greek prison for almost a year after being wrongfully accused of manslaughter.

In addition, it calls for a proportionality check that would look at the trial-readiness of the case, the seriousness of the offence and whether a less intrusive measure is available. This is to prevent the Euro-warrant being issued for petty crimes, which in the past have included cases such as the theft of two tyres and the stealing of piglets.

Commenting, Sarah Ludford said:

“Given that my report received explicit backing from Conservative MEPs, I hope that Tory backbenchers now close ranks and support reform of the European Arrest Warrant rather than insisting that the UK abandons it altogether. Continue reading

Sarah Ludford MEP: MEPs back action against LGBT discrimination despite Tory/UKIP opposition

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPThe European Parliament has today overwhelmingly approved a new European Union ‘LGBT roadmap’ to help tackle widespread discrimination against the gay community across Europe.

The Lunacek report calls for:
• Legislation to prohibit incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity
• Proposals for the mutual recognition of documents across the EU to reduce barriers on same-sex couples in exercising their right to freedom of movement
• The monitoring of equal treatment in employment, with 1 in 5 LGBT people feeling they were discriminated against at work or when looking for a job
• Protection of LGBT freedom of expression.

While Liberal Democrat MEPs strongly supported these measures to tackle LGBT discrimination, Conservative and UKIP MEPs abstained.

Liberal Democrat MEP for London & vice-president of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Sarah Ludford said:

“With half of LGBT people in Europe subject to some form of discrimination, urgent action is needed to ensure the gay community is protected. As a Liberal Democrat, I want to see equal treatment become the norm across Europe.”

“The roadmap is not about giving the LGBT community special privileges. It’s simply a recognition that existing rights applicable to everyone are not being properly enforced for LGBT people.”

“It’s a disgrace that Conservative MEPs failed to support action to tackle LGBT discrimination, following in the footsteps of their ideological bedfellows UKIP. While UKIP and the Tories continue to ignore the injustices that LGBT citizens face, Liberal Democrat MEPs will keep putting gay rights, as part of human rights, a core focus of our work in the European Parliament.”

Ludford: Ford could reassess UK business in case of EU exit

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPFord has warned that it could reassess its business in the UK if the country were to leave the EU.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Stephen Odell, Chief Executive of Ford Europe, said that by quitting the EU Britain would be “cutting its nose off to spite its face.”

He added: “I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”

Mr Odell said that while there was understandable concern about some of the rules and regulations coming from Brussels, the UK would still have to comply with many of these outside of the EU and that it was therefore better to push for reform from within.

Ford, which employs almost 15,000 people across the UK, is one of Britain’s largest foreign investors and manufacturers. A third of the world’s Ford engines are assembled at its plants in Bridgend and Dagenham.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford commented:

“We cannot ignore the message from major employers about the importance of the EU for jobs and growth. Yanking us out of Europe, as UKIP and many Conservatives would like to do, would risk seriously damaging Britain’s economy.

“Foreign investment would go down, unemployment would go up and Britain’s influence on the rules that matter to businesses would be seriously diminished.

“Liberal Democrats, as the Party of In, are committed to reforming the EU from within to make it work better for Britain. Our focus must be on creating jobs and sustaining the economic recovery, not throwing it all away by turning our back on our biggest trading partner.”

Ludford: European Arrest Warrant reform one step closer

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP MEPs on the European Parliament LIBE committee yesterday approved a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford calling for major changes to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), including the introduction of a human rights’ clause to prevent miscarriages of justice and a proportionality test to prevent the warrant being used for petty crimes.

The report calls for the European Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to reform the EAW at the EU level.

Sarah Ludford said:

“I’m delighted that reform of the European Arrest Warrant is now one step closer after my report was approved by the LIBE committee. The warrant needs to be used not only effectively but proportionately, with guarantees that safeguards are respected and human rights are not abused in the process. This will help prevent miscarriages of justice in the future.”

“My report seeks to achieve this reform with EU-wide support, rather than ad hoc and uncoordinated action by individual member states which would fail to deliver real justice for European citizens.”

“The Euro-warrant will remain a crucial crime-fighting tool, delivering swift justice compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures, ensuring that criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law by crossing into another European country. With the reforms I and my MEP colleagues are calling for – and we expect the Commission to act on – all our citizens will be able to have full confidence in its fairness as well as its effectiveness.”

Notes to Editors

The report will be voted on by all MEPs in plenary in February.

A list of case studies of miscarriages of justice arising through use of the European Arrest Warrant can be found on the Fair Trials international website here.

London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forrest are among those who have been brought to justice to the UK thanks to the EAW.

Tory attempt to block Snowden EP evidence foiled

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

MEPs from the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee today voted to invite video testimony from whistle-blower Edward Snowden to the European Parliament’s inquiry into mass surveillance. The evidence session is expected to be held in coming weeks, possibly as early as the week commencing January 20th.

British Conservative MEPs strongly opposed Snowden giving testimony, but were heavily defeated with 36 MEPs voting in favour and only the two Tory MEPs in the committee voting against. Continue reading

Lynne Featherstone and Sarah Ludford: Tory and UKIP MEPs fail to condemn female genital mutilation

Lynne Featherstone MP and Liberal Democrat European human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP have strongly criticised Conservatives MEPs who voted against a European Parliament resolution today condemning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Four Conservative MEPs – Marta Andreasen, Nirj Deva, Sajjad Karim and Timothy Kirkhope – voted against the motion to condemn FGM, and several UKIP and Conservative MEPs including Nigel Farage abstained.

Lynne Featherstone commented:

“It is deeply shocking that so many Tory and UKIP MEPs today refused to condemn female genital mutilation.

“I have made it a priority of this government to end this horrific practice within a generation. That means working through international organisations like the EU to help shape cultural attitudes worldwide.

“Sending out mixed signals like this completely undermines the global fight against FGM on which Britain is playing a leading role in support of the many African countries who have already banned the practice.”

Sarah Ludford added:

“Today’s vote was a betrayal of the millions of young girls who have been subjected to genital mutilation the world over.

“Tory and UKIP MEPs would do better to put their personal attitudes towards the EU aside when it comes to something as important as the fight against FGM. Surely we should be standing united in condemning this barbaric practice and working together to end it.”

Notes to editors:

Lynne Featherstone MP is a minister in the Department for International Development and UK Ministerial Champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas. In March this year she announced a £35m DFID programme to help end FGM worldwide within a generation.

Today’s European Parliament resolution stated: “strongly condemns the disgraceful practice of female genital mutilation in certain parts of Africa, honour killings, gender-based abortion and forced marriage;”

Four Conservative MEPs voted against (p.61-62), four Conservative MEPs and five UKIP MEPs abstained:

The coalition government has set up a new NSPCC helpline to allow children affected by FGM to talk to someone in confidence:

The coalition government has also established a £35m fund to help communities across Africa get the support they need to reject this barbaric practice:



Ludford: European Arrest Warrant ripe for reform

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPBritish Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford is introducing her report on reform of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) tomorrow, Wednesday 27th November, in the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs committee. She has long been involved in criminal justice measures and has taken a particular interest in the EAW.

She said:

“The European Arrest Warrant is a crucial crime-fighting tool, essential for police efforts to keep the public safe. It delivers speedy surrender compared to previous long and cumbersome extradition procedures and ensures that criminals cannot flee from justice by crossing borders. London bomber Hussain Osman and school teacher Jeremy Forest are among those who have been brought to justice thanks to the EAW.

Continue reading

Ludford: MPs and Lords right to support EU crime-fighting measures

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPThe House of Commons Justice Committee and House of Lords EU Committee have both published reports today on the UK’s decision over which EU policing and criminal justice measures to stay a participant in.

The Justice Committee broadly supports the coalition government’s intentions while the House of Lords EU Committee goes further in arguing that the UK should seek to rejoin several additional measures on grounds of coherence.

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Liberal Democrat European Spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs, commented:

“Parliamentarians in both Houses have rightly concluded that EU police and judicial cooperation is clearly in the national interest. Continue reading

Ludford: EU privacy law – Liberals achieve good balance

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEPCo-negotiator for the Liberal group in the European Parliament (ALDE) and Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed an MEP compromise agreement on the new EU Data Protection Regulation to be voted on in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee later today.

Sarah Ludford said:

I’m extremely proud of the crucial leading role played by Liberal Democrats in securing a balanced text which will both guarantee substantive privacy rights across Europe and permit technological innovations that benefit customers.”

“The end result is very different to either of the extremes we faced: reams of prescriptive bureaucracy from one side and a desire to allow businesses free rein on the other. Continue reading